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Last updated: November 17, 2005 7:05 pm

VNU chief quits after IMS deal fails

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VNU, the Dutch business information group, on Thursday bowed to investor demands by scrapping the $7bn acquisition of IMS Health, the US market researcher, and announced the resignation of its chief executive. But the group still faced an investor rebellion.

Knight Vinke Asset Management, which is among a group of rebel investors representing about 50 per cent of VNU shares, called on the company to appoint an independent investment bank to explore all ways of maximising shareholder value. 

Eric Knight, of Knight Vinke, welcomed the decision to abandon the IMS deal which he said “brings to an end a strategy that has delivered no value to shareholders over the past seven years”.

But he said it had not answered all the demands of a group that includes Fidelity and Templeton and UBS. The strained atmosphere between the company and investors will not have been helped by an outburst by VNU’s three most senior figures, who accused shareholders of favouring “short-term interests” over the long-term future of the company.

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